Tech moves fast, and for anyone who is trying to stay updated on the latest and greatest, keeping up with the myriad of sources and formats of information can be daunting. I’ve had several conversations recently with tech-nerd friends who had new start-up ideas, only to be thwarted by my comments of “oh yeah, that sounds like X or Y that just got funded by YCombinator or some other fund…” After apologizing for being the first to let them know they hadn’t thought about it first (another post someday on how ideas are easy, but execution is really really hard), the conversations have consistently turned to how I stay on top of this stuff. You’ll find some of my methods below, and I’d love to hear others.
DISCLAIMER: Consuming large quantities of information for no other reason then to “be on top of it” is not advised. Set up the following resources to help drive your business venture, personal interests, or other meaningful pursuits to ensure you aren’t just idling along as a tech fan-boy or girl.
Ok, all that said, here are the services/sites I use just about every day:
- HackerNews: awesome community of hackers and programmers helping each other to build great services, pursue start-up ideas, etc… The latest programming advancements (NoSQL, Node as recent examples) are actively being cultivated in this community, and if you are looking for brutal but helpful start-up feedback…show yours to this community.
- Techmeme: Good aggregation of the day’s big tech news. Starting to get bored by the constant Facebook/Apple/Twitter/Google news items, but I guess that’s what’s dominating tech news these days.
- TweetDeck: I use this desktop tool in a very specific manner, which is to define searches on topics that I’m interested in for my business (web conferencing, collaboration, competitors, partners, and customer news). I get to see a wide range of content on these topics in a beautiful column-view, making it easy to digest what’s happening with these folks or topics in near real-time.
- LinkedIn: I’m going to write another post on this one, because I get a huge amount of value out this service and I’ve been giving out a bunch of tips on this that most people don’t seem to know about (it’s a fact that LinkedIn buries some of its best features from users at the time of writing). A couple of quick tips: follow your customers and competitors on this service to see who’s coming, who’s going, news, and other helpful information to keep a pulse on your ecosystem. You can also add people to “folders” for follow-up or organization. And if you are pursuing new sales or business development efforts, this is the ultimate tool to find the right people.
- Google Alerts: I’ve been using this for a long time, and it’s awesome. You define a search term, and Google sends you an email (immediately, daily, weekly, …) when it crawls a piece of content with that term in it. I use this to keep tabs on customer news, partners, and competitors. Several times this service has highlighted opportunities for us to go back into existing customers to help assist with changing business environments (initiatives to save money, etc…). I like this service because it sends data to me vs. having to pull for it. Be careful on frequency (most of mine are daily, with some weekly digests).
- Google Reader: I’ve been using this less lately, but it is still a great way to aggregate large numbers of publishers into a single view.
What about you?